Master storytellers: Vancouver Irish Film Festival rolls out for second year

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For the second year in a row, Vancouver’s Irish community has rallied together to celebrate the very best cinema the country has to offer. 

The Vancouver Irish Film Festival takes place at Vancity Theatre through Sunday.

Independent filmmaker Áine Coady, the festival’s founder and director, is on a two-year working holiday visa from Dublin and arrived in Vancouver in early 2018. 

Coady didn’t waste any time bringing Irish cinema to Vancouverites. 

“I came over here last year on St. Patrick’s Day weekend … so my first weekend in Vancouver was spent celebrating Irish culture. And I saw there was an appetite for a film festival and just to showcase Irish cinema abroad,” Coady told Gloria Macarenko, host of On the Coast

As an independent filmmaker, Coady knows first-hand how hard it is for Irish filmmakers to get independent movies shown abroad and in North America. She created the Vancouver Irish Film Festival to help those artists reach a broader audience. 

Coady says she had a quick response from the local Irish community when she first pitched the idea in March 2018. Local Irish pubs came on board to financially support the festival. 

Áine Coady, second from right, on the opening night of the first Vancouver Irish Film Festival in 2018. (Frank Flood)

Part of Irish heritage

Coady came to Vancouver specifically to work in TV and film, and is currently doing work for Netflix. She says that while Vancouver has a large film scene with mass production, the small country of Ireland is also full of filmmakers making exceptional cinema. 

“Irish cinema by nature is independent. We don’t have a lot of the big studios and budgets, so we would tell simple stories well — usually character driven pieces,” Coady said. 

“I think we are very proud of our tradition of storytelling and entertaining. We’re known as the land of saints and scholars … So I think it’s part of our heritage and culture.”

The films

The Vancouver Irish Film Festival has a packed schedule, but Coady says Into the West, a magical modern-day fairy tale set in ’90s Ireland, is one not to miss. The all-ages film will be shown Saturday afternoon. 

“I would encourage families of all ages, not just with Irish heritage, to wrap up warm and come see that movie.”

Irish music was part of the opening night festivities for the first Irish film festival in Vancouver in 2018. (Submitted by Áine Coady)

The festival will also feature seven Oscar-nominated short films from the past decade, including Boogaloo and Graham (2014) and Late Afternoon (2017). 

Coady says some of the films are already sold out, and she is pleased with the response the festival has received.

While Coady is applying to be a permanent resident, she says that if she does end up leaving after her visa expires in March, she hopes one of the Vancouver Irish Film Festival’s many volunteers will keep the event going for years to come. 

Listen to the full story here:

November 28, 2019 Vancouver’s Irish community has pulled together to produce the Vancouver Irish Film Festival. Áine Coady is the festival’s founder. 7:04

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